Clyde & Co Graduate Profile Image- Robert

Robert Chen

Graduate Lawyer
Robert Chen studied Juris Doctor and graduated in November 2017

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Bankstown, Sydney and would say that the most important stages of my life were, in no particular order, going to Sydney Boys High School, competing for North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, going on exchange at the University of Birmingham, and the travelling and near-death experiences and odd jobs I worked in between my first degree and my law degree including being a personal trainer.  I went to school at Sydney Boys High School. I had no clue what I wanted to do when I finished school so I did a Bachelor of International Studies at UNSW and then I went on exchange to the University of Birmingham.  I found International Studies interesting, I loved that stuff but I wasn’t interested in working in Canberra or as an academic at that stage of my life. I spent the next few years of my life working as a Personal Trainer, travelling, playing sports and then I got sick of being a PT. The catalyst moment was when I was involved in a minor car accident and I ended up being worse off than the other party so I took it upon myself to get up to speed with law legislation. After that I decided I wanted to get into Law. It was always something I wanted to do but I didn’t have the marks. I then met a guy at my gym and he was Lawyer so I asked if he could get me a job and I started working in a suburban Law firm. From there I signed up at UTS to do the JD.

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it? 

Once upon a time when I was a personal trainer, I told off a gym patron for not putting his weights away. From there a friendship blossomed and I saw him come in a suit one day and I asked him where he worked, and he said he was a lawyer so I asked if he could get me a job. I went for the interview, got the gig, and started working as a law clerk. After a few months I decided to study law and have progressed through suburban firms to where I am today at Clyde & Co. I have been a graduate lawyer here since May 2018.

How did you choose your specialisation?

I chose to rotate to Cyber because it was an opportunity of a generation, to join a market leading practice in an area of law in its infancy. I was weighing up litigation and corporate law as well.

What are the career prospects with your job? 

With my job I can either stay at the firm and see how I go, or I could work for a govern or work for a government body or work for any private organisation as legal counsel, or become a barrister. The world's your oyster with a sprinkle of caviar.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

I think so, I wouldn't rule out anyone just because they come from a different walk of life.

What do you love the most about your job?

You feel as if you are part of a bigger machine that’s helping clients reach goals and resolve disputes and I think having a sense of belonging within a team that is full of go-getters is extremely rewarding.  I enjoy being on the frontline in cyber, triaging calls, talking clients through their predicaments and seeing them through to safety on the other side.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

I think the hours don't really allow you to have many other hobbies if you do have them so be prepared to give things up. I feel like I do and continue to take on more responsibility which I enjoy. I have to work on the odd weekend here and there. I think stress levels come down to what sort of person you are, you can deal with it and get on with the job or you can flap around like a headless chook. But that being said there are things you can do to manage your stress levels and you have to in this working environment.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role, or even be career-focused. 

  • Don't lose who you are and don't settle where you can't be yourself
  • Travel and travel widely before you lock yourself down with a career
  • Build on skills that will be useful and relevant in the years to come